Outdoor Living...

Family gathering around the bonfire...photo by my cousin Lynne.

We had a beautiful week in New York, on Lake Ontario.

Glorious sunsets every night.  It's so hard not to try to take a picture of every one, but I did manage to sit still and just watch for a while.

Bedtimes have been pushed (way) back, mornings have been lazy.  

Dirty feet from being barefoot all day.

We picked cherries, which I realized I had never done before.  Trees bursting with ruby-colored fruit, we could pick them by the handful.  So sweet.  We ate and ate and ate.

Sticky popsicle faces.

We enjoyed a day at the amusement park.  The boys had their first ride on a roller coaster, which was big enough to make me squeal with laughter too.  We spent time in the water park, riding in pairs down the big water slide.  I felt like a kid.

Suitcases exploded in the tent, and yet I loved the outdoor living.  Sleeping outside in the fresh air, reading by the light of the lantern, early morning yoga while the boys slept in.

Dinner for 50.  It was an impressive gathering of family.  I loved catching up, and it was fun to see my boys play with cousins (actually mostly second cousins) they just met.

We had one morning of fun with the boat.  The boys and I rode the Gladiator, and Aaron got to go out riding and swimming with the big kids.

Singing around the bonfire.  Aaron sang a couple songs with me as I played on my guitar, and it made my heart swell.

Burnt marshmallows.  The best kind.

Awe-inspiring starry night skies.   I looked up until I saw a shooting star.  And then I looked some more.

I came home feeling refreshed, full of fresh air and love.  It's no wonder this is one of my favorite places in the world.



My baby is five.  We celebrated with a Hotwheels party at home.  Racetracks, an obstacle course, a piƱata, and ice cream cake.  A few things about my sweet and beautiful boy...

1.  His favorite color changes by the day, but most often it's still blue.
2.  He still loves pasta, but he chooses grilled cheese or pizza most often now.  He will eat some meat, but only selected kinds.  He does really well with most veggies.  
3.  Cereal for breakfast, although he'd have waffles or pancakes every day if I made them for him.
4.  His favorite TV show is Wild Kratts.  It's basically the only one he watches.  It's pretty remarkable how much he has learned about animals as well as geography from watching this show.
5.  He loves legos.  He plays with his mini figures all the time.
6.  He's done with preschool, and he's excited to be in the same school with his big brother in the Fall.
7.  He still turns everything into a gun, a sword, or a bat.  I'm eagerly waiting for this phase to end.
8.  He plays on his own quite a bit, and he creates little worlds for himself and his toys.  It's so cool to watch.  
9.  His artistic flair points to large, dramatic scribbles, but he has added some recognizable objects.  These include people - including belly buttons!, rainbows, houses, grass and trees...
10.  He loves riding his two-wheel bike, but his scooter is still his favorite.  
11.  He loves baseball.  Having batting practice in the back field, playing catch, running the bases...
12.  Every night at bedtime, we read a couple stories, and he then asks for a couple toys to play with in bed.  A couple superheroes, a bunch of mini figures, a few hot wheels cars...  
13.  He still has his blonde hair.  I hope it stays - it's beautiful with his dark chocolate-brown eyes.
14.  He is getting stingier with his hugs and kisses, but I still get one every morning and every night.  I steal more when I can.  

Update:  I forgot to mention this and I don't want to ever forget it.  About a week before his birthday, I told Nathan that I wanted him to stay 4 forever.  Four is so sweet, and snuggly, and fun, and awesome.  He said, "Mom, I can't stay 4.  I have to turn 5, and then 6, and then 7..."  I said, "But why?"  His response?  "I don't know, Mom, that's just the way life works.  But 5 will be awesome too."  Oh my goodness I just adore this kid.


Recently Read

TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann.  I really enjoyed this one.  I loved 'Let the Great World Spin', which is by the same author, so I had high expectations.  It delivered.  The author weaves several stories together, and it's fascinating to think about how our lives are impacted by those who came before us and how they may have an affect on people in the future.  He also uses the historical facts surrounding some famous men as a backdrop, but the main characters in the book are fictional women who merely brush past those men in life.  Beautifully written.

The Dinner, by Herman Koch.  I had high expectations for this book, too, especially when you read the reviews on the cover.  On the cover, Gillian Flynn ('Gone Girl') writes, "Chilling, Nasty, Smart, Shocking, and Unputdownable."  So naturally, that's what I expected.  Overall, it was an okay book, and it would probably be a good one for a book club, because I can see the discussions it would naturally start.  How far would you go to protect your children?  I wouldn't go so far as to use those descriptors, though.  I'd say it was smart, thought-provoking, and a decent read.

This Is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz.  This book is so refreshingly different.  The writing is raw and unique, and it is written just as people talk.  I could hear the voices as I was reading.  The characters are Dominican, which I will admit is a culture that I am not very familiar with, and the setting is the Northeast US - specifically New York and Boston.   Overall, I didn't feel a ton of emotional resonance, but I think that's primarily because the topic (basically the main characters cheats on all his girlfriends) and culture is so foreign to me.  I still enjoyed it and found it fascinating.


A Few Things...

Just a few random things for your reading pleasure...

This salad.  My garden is very full of romaine lettuce and kale at the moment, so I searched my pins to find a new way to use them.  I chose this salad recipe and holy cow is it good!  It has pretty much been my lunch for the last two weeks, and it will most likely continue to be for a while.  I tried adding apple, which was okay, but the next day I added an avocado and some brown rice....perfection.  Seriously.  Sooooo good.

A Conversation With Neil Degrasse Tyson About Cosmos, Race, and Celebrity.  I love Neil Degrasse Tyson.  He's such an interesting person, and every time I listen to him, I want to go out and learn something.

Pixar's new movie.  It's called "Inside Out" and won't be released until next year.  It sounds fascinating, though, and I'm already looking forward to it.

An Important Post About How to Prepare Your Teen for Certain Situations.  I appreciated this post.  I'm still several years away from having to deal with most of this stuff, but I find myself looking forward, preparing myself for the harder conversations.  Helping my kids navigate the teen years.

Conor Oberst performing at NPR's Tiny Desk.  If you haven't listened to his new album yet, check out this sweet little concert.

A beautiful last article by Rick Reilly, a popular sportswriter.

Six Things You Should Know About Spotify.  I spend a lot of money on music.  If I joined Spotify, I would most definitely save money, but I don't think I could ever do it.  It just seems wrong somehow. If I'm spending less, it must mean the artists are getting less, and they're already not getting much from album sales.  I find myself buying t-shirts as much to support the band as to wear.  Do you use Spotify?  Or rely on Pandora for your music?  So many of my friends don't buy music at all anymore, and it makes me sad.

The Newport lineup is complete.  And awesome.  Now I just need the schedule so I can strategize.  I think I'm most looking forward to seeing J. Roddy Walston & the Business - I think they will be a ton of fun to see live.  And The Oh Hellos.  And Jack White.  Have you listened to Jack White's new album?  Really, really good.  Oh and Shovels & Rope!  Man I hope the schedule is conducive to my wishes.

photo by Carli Nicole


To Not Making Plans...

We had a really nice weekend.  The weather has been glorious, and it has allowed us to play outside in the warm sunshine all day long.   The weekend was a mix of planned events - birthday parties, camp orientation, a neighbor's graduation party - and the unplanned.  

After camp orientation, we decided to go out to dinner, but we had some extra time to kill.  So we went to a nearby playground for a bit.  When the boys wanted to leave, we still had some time, so we went into a local bookstore.  I just love bookstores, and I really loved my boys' reactions to the idea of going into one.   "Ooh I LOVE bookstores!  Can we get a book?  Please?!?"  I'm a sucker when it comes to books, and all four of us left with a couple.  We then enjoyed a nice dinner, eating outside, and the boys were entertained by their new books.  Awesome.

Sunday was similar.  The day was relatively wide open, so we spent a lot of time working and playing in the yard.  The boys were getting a little bored, though, so I thought I'd take them someplace nearby to ride bikes.  The place we were going to go had an event going on, so we had to come up with a plan B.  We decided to go to Wellesley College, which is also very close.  My husband goes running there all the time, but I actually hadn't seen a lot of the campus, even though I pass it every day.  It is a beautiful school, and we had a really nice walk while the boys had fun riding through tunnels and down the hills.  

We had fun at a neighbor's cookout, and we finished the day eating ice cream and yelling at the TV during that crazy USA-Portugal World Cup game.  

A beautiful weekend.  The planned and the unplanned.  

Aaron asked me what we have planned to do this week.  He is one who appreciates having plans every day.  I have a few ideas of things we might do, but we're going to play it by ear.  I need to show him that being spontaneous is a beautiful thing too.  


Endings and New Beginnings...

I've fallen out of my blog rhythm again.  The boys are out of school and so my routine has been upended.  Most of my online time seems to be dedicated to job applications and updates to the cover letter.  I do wake up early and generally get an hour or so before the little people wake up, but that's my exercise time.  I'm taking this morning off (I've been good and I deserve it!), so here I am.  

My little man and I have been spending a lot of quality time together.  My baby.  He's such a fascinating character, and I'm so grateful to be able to hang out with him like this.  He's had to accompany me on errands, but we've also managed to have a little fun along the way.  It's been a glorious week weather-wise, which always helps.  Summer is definitely here.  

My big boy had his last day of school yesterday, and we celebrated at a pool party at a new friend's house.  Tons of kids running around, and lots of families to get to know.  So much emotion from the older kids who finished elementary school and will be moving up next year.  So much excitement from all of them.  Our town conducts a "step-up day" on the last day of the school year, allowing the kids to meet their new teacher and see who will be in their class.  It's a wonderful way to end the year...with anticipation for the next.  My son was very happy to discover the friends who will be in his class, so of course I was as well.  

Other endings....Aaron wrapped up his first year of piano, and his teacher gave him a CD of songs he played at his lessons.  They generally recorded a song every week.  The progress was astounding!  And baseball.  Last night was the last game of the season.  It's still non-competitive at this age, and here I think it's a good thing.  The focus has been on learning the game, supporting your teammates, practicing skills.  Aaron loved it.  Just for fun, they gave Nathan a uniform and let him have a turn at bat at the end of the game.  He hit a hard shot down the first base line and ran around the bases to loud cheers from the crowd.  Such a fun way to end the year.  

And me....well, the job search continues.  I am getting conversations set up for the weeks the boys are at camp next month.  Fingers crossed.  Next I need to determine what I will wear.  I must admit, there is a part of me that is growing excited at the prospect of returning to work.  There is a lot to figure out, and so I often get overwhelmed at the thought of it.  But when I push all that aside for a moment, I realize that it will feel good to get back to it.  To use my brain in a different way, to contribute financially, to share the house/parenting responsibilities more equally with my husband.  It will be a good thing.  

So to today.  Our first full day of Summer vacation.  The sun is shining and the air is warm.  As I look at our very full Summer calendar, I am eager with anticipation.  I will work to slow it down as much as possible, soaking in every moment.  We have nothing planned for today, and that's just fine by me.  


Taking Stock

From Sunday night's First Aid Kit show.  Damn they are good.

Making:  lots of salads with the lettuce and kale from the garden.  What a pleasure to be able to go out and pick exactly what I need.
Cooking:  food on the grill, since it's finally summer!  But tonight...teriyaki ginger meatballs, rice, and broccoli.  Tomorrow, my favorite spring meal...pasta primavera.
Drinking:  water, water, and more water.  Sometimes a splash of lemonade in it, or a squeeze of lime. I've been trying to cut down the alcohol, and I've done pretty well the last few weeks.
Reading:  Just started This Is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz.  Oh, and How to Train Your Dragon with Aaron.
Wanting:  a casual pair of capris.  Why are they so hard to find?
Looking:  at families with two working parents for inspiration.
Playing:  new songs on my guitar.  Conor Oberst is my current musical inspiration.
Wasting:  too much time on Facebook - it's time to take another break, so I removed it from my phone and logged out on the computer.
Sewing:  ha!
Wishing:  my sisters lived closer.
Enjoying:  First Aid Kit's new album.  I bought the vinyl record at their show last night, and it may stay on the turntable for a good long while.  Beautiful.
Waiting:  for summer vacation to start, and yet trying to savor each moment along the way.
Liking:  the sounds of baseball from the backyard.
Wondering:  how long it will take us to fix our front door.  Ugh.
Hoping:  that I find a good job (My definition of good.)
Marveling:  at how cool my boys are.  I mean, I know, obvious, and I'm their mom, but really.
Needing:  work clothes.  Well, I don't need them yet, but I'm realizing that I most definitely will.
Smelling:  fresh tomato scent on my fingers after tending to the garden.  No tomatoes yet, but they're coming.
Wearing:  shorts and a tee.  Pretty much every day.
Following:  musicians and comedians and astronauts on Twitter.  Smile a little, laugh a little, learn a little.  See also:  wasting time.
Noticing:  the house is kind of messy.  I think I'm okay with kind of messy.
Knowing:  I eat too much ice cream.  See also:  not caring.
Thinking:  too many things.  All the time.  Working on quieting my mind.
Bookmarking:  too many recipes on Pinterest.  I need to start making some of them or quit bothering!
Watching:  the season finale of Turn.  A show Kevin and I agree on.
Giggling:  every time the boys fart and crack up laughing.  I know I shouldn't encourage them, but...
Feeling:  grateful for my beautiful, healthy family and our happy little life.

*Copied from Bridget at Tales of Me and the Husband,  who copied it from someone else, who copied it from...


First Aid Kit - My Silver Lining

I've been listening to First Aid Kit's new album via NPR, and I am so looking forward to its release next week.  We are going to see these lovely ladies in concert on Sunday evening - yay!  When I told Aaron, he was disappointed he couldn't go with us.  They were his favorite band from our first visit to the Newport Folk Festival.

Give them a listen.  You won't be disappointed.

Keep on keeping on.


Menu Planning

pictures via Martha Stewart, Real Simple, MyRecipes, Bon Appetit

I haven't gotten completely organized yet, but I do feel like dinner is back under control.  The first step I took was to collect all of my online recipes into this post!  Looking back through previous menus and saving the recipes that my family liked was a simple exercise, and now I have an easy place to look for inspiration.  This list contains all recipes that we've eaten more than once and will definitely make again.  I was surprised to see how many dishes we already had in our rotation!

I will still like to add new dishes from time to time, and there are other meals not included here that we eat quite frequently that don't require recipes.  Part of me would still like the organized binder, but being able to pull these up on the iPad in the kitchen works just as well.  It'd be fun if someone else out there got a benefit from this list, but mostly I'm doing this for me.

Turkey Mini-Meat Loaves
Ginger-Soy Chicken Thighs
Chicken Parmesan
Turkey Burritos
Marinated Chicken
Almond-Stuffed Chicken
Baked Chicken in Creamy Tomato Sauce
Turkey Burgers with Oven Fries
Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
Turkey Reuben Sandwiches
Chicken Tenders
Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Quesadillas
Spicy Chicken Cakes
Chicken Breasts stuffed with Artichokes, Lemon, and Goat Cheese
Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Noodles
Roast Chicken
Sloppy Joes
Arugula Salad with Grilled Chicken, Corn, Tomatoes, and Blue Cheese

New England Clam and Corn Chowder
Maple-Dijon Salmon
Fish Tacos
Sauteed Tilapia with Honey-Scallion Dressing
Lemon-Pepper Shrimp Scampi
Lemon-Tarragon Crab Cakes
Panko-Crusted Fish Sticks
Easy Baked Fish Fillets
Sauteed Scallops
Shrimp Kebabs

Pasta Primavera
Pasta with Goat Cheese and Asparagus
Spaghetti & Meatballs
Turkey Bolognese
Baked Ziti
Penne with Shrimp, Peas, and Pesto
Pesto Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage
Macaroni & Cheese with Butternut Squash
Summer Ziti
Spring Risotto
Happy Pasta
Grilled Chicken and Pesto Farfalle
Rigatoni with Roasted Sausage and Broccoli
Lemon Spaghetti
Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans
Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese
Linguini with Spring Vegetables
Penne with Vodka Sauce

Vegetarian Chili
Broccoli-Cheddar Soup
Corn, Potato, and Leek Chowder
Summer Squash and Corn Chowder
Corn and Butternut Squash Chowder
Butternut Squash Soup with Parmesan and Fried Sage Leaves

Black Bean Quesadillas with Corn Salsa
Southwestern Salad
Vegetable Frittata with Roasted Potatoes or Potato-Onion Frittata
Red Leaf Salad with Roasted Sweet Potato
Roasted Corn and Goat Cheese Quesadillas
Tortilla and Black Bean Pie
Black Bean Burgers with Mango Salsa
Double Bean Burgers with Avocado Basil Cream
Sweet Potato, Corn, and Kale Chowder
Grilled Eggplant with Tomato and Feta
Thai Vegetable Curry
Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Chickpeas and Feta

Corn and Avocado Salad
Feta-Rosemary Potatoes
Sauteed Kale


Amazing Boys...

Being a mother of boys is a beautiful thing.  It's muddy and dirty and full of fart noises and wrestling matches and scraped shins.  I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about trucks, dinosaurs, superheroes, and animals.  I have tripped over lego buildings and stepped on more hot wheels cars than I can count.  I have also received the best, sweetest hugs ever.  I have been given weed bouquets and kisses on my cheek and painted family portraits that I will save forever and ever.  And it's a good thing I love baseball.  

Do you ever have those moments when you look at your kid(s) and are amazed they exist?  I mean, we made these little people.  Who are so like me and my husband and yet unique to themselves.  Sometimes I just sit and stare at them, in awe and wonder.  They are beautiful, wonderful, strange little boys.  I am so unbelievably happy to have them in my life.  

telling secrets and making each other laugh...may it always be so


What's Going On...

Nathan had his preschool graduation earlier this week.  He was so happy and proud, and I had such a fun time watching him sing songs and get his diploma.  He was especially happy that his grandma got to come too.  Kindergarten here he comes!

My baby is also riding a bike!  We decided to get his birthday present a little early, and he is ridiculously excited about it.  We took the training wheels off as soon as we got home, and he was riding it on his own the first day!  (Love love love balance bikes for making this process so easy.)

I'm having a pretty low-key week, hanging out with Nathan and trying to get some things done here and there.  Aaron's still in school, and baseball and piano are still on the schedule, so it's mostly the same routine through June.  But we're almost there!

In the meantime:  birthday parties, field day, teacher gifts, school celebrations...

I'm back in my dinner-making groove.  Expect a mammoth recipe list soon.

My job search will get into full swing next week.  Wish me luck!  I only want to find a fulfilling job I enjoy that will allow me to stay flexible so I can take care of myself and my family too.  That shouldn't be so hard to find, right?

In the meantime:  appreciating all the little moments, like midday bike riding, prepping dinner in the morning, leisurely leftover lunches...


Conor Oberst - Time Forgot


Conor Oberst has always fascinated me.  His lyrics are so intricate and thoughtful, and I will spend time with one song for hours, trying to figure out what it means.  His latest album, Upside Down Mountain, is probably my favorite to date.

I haven't chosen a favorite song yet, and I couldn't choose a video to include here, so I just picked the first two songs off the album.  Enjoy and happy Friday!


Little Things...

I got a new pair of sneakers, and they are purple.  I am a little shocked every time I look down.  

We finally adjusted these shelves to be able to accommodate more records.  We added a box full of albums given to us by Kevin's uncle.  Our collection is really coming along!  

It's lilac season.  The yard smells amazing, and the purple and white blooms are so pretty.


Muscle Shoals

Since I had the opportunity to fly by myself last weekend, I decided to rent a couple movies to bring with me.  The first was "About Time", which was sweet and lovely and the message is important - live every day, every moment.  

The movie I watched on the way home was Muscle Shoals, a documentary about the music industry in a tiny town in Alabama.  Some of the biggest hit songs ever were recorded here.  It's absolutely wonderful.  The stories, the people, and of course the music.  I highly recommend it.


Friends and Priorities...

I'm not sure how it happened.  Julie lives outside Atlanta, and of course I live near Boston.  Once I moved north, it became difficult to see each other.  But we managed.  I worked in Atlanta for a couple years, and seeing Julie was a nice benefit of having to fly every week.  We were in each other's weddings.  We went to Disneyworld for our 30th birthdays.  When I got pregnant the first time, she flew up to visit, bringing me a suitcase full of maternity clothes.  We emailed and called.  And then...

Eight years flew by!  We were both shocked when we realized how long it had been since we had seen each other.  Kids and jobs and school and money and having to travel to visit long-distance family somehow meant that traveling to visit friends became a lower priority.  Every now and then we'd start a conversation about how we needed to plan a trip, and for one reason or another, it didn't happen.  The conversation started back up again in the Fall, as we approached our fortieth birthdays.  We had celebrated 16 together, and 21, and 30...we should really do something for 40.  The conversation wasn't going anywhere, and I finally just said, I'm coming to you!  I am so happy I did.

Julie is my best friend from high school.  I met her in geometry class our freshman year.  Let's just say I helped her through it.  ;-)  We became fast friends and have stayed that way ever since.  There's something so special about friends you make early in life.  Julie knows my family, she knows how I did in school, we worked at the same ice cream shop, we talked about all the big events (first kiss, first loves, first...), we skipped school and went to the beach, we got in trouble together, and we helped each other make it through the hell that high school can be.  We went to different colleges but visited and kept in touch.  A couple years after college, I was her maid of honor.  A few years after that, she was mine.

We spent this past weekend talking.  And talking.  About everything.  Kids, marriage, jobs, home, family, friends...  It was as if no time had passed.  But of course it had, and I don't want to let that much time go by again.  We let the distance between us and the busyness of life keep us apart, and I am determined not to let that happen again.  Friends are the best stuff of life, and it's so important to cherish them.  

Me and Julie at twenty-one...

...and here we are at forty.


Nikki Lane - Love's on Fire

I've had this song on repeat all week.  Love it.  It's a duet with Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys.  That shift at the 1:10 mark - gets me every time.  The rest of the album is pretty damn awesome too, although I keep hitting repeat on this song.  I should just let the whole thing play more.  Check it out!

photo by Chuck Grant via Rolling Stone


Recently Read

1Q84, by Haruki Marakami.  This is a fascinating book, and it kept me engaged, but at the end I wasn't satisfied.  It is extremely long, and the payoff just wasn't there for me.   It is thoughtful, and the images are painted masterfully, and again, I actually did enjoy reading it, if only to attempt to understand the point behind creating such an intricate and complex world.  At the end, though, I didn't feel like I was walking away with any newfound knowledge or understanding - I was mostly glad it was over.

Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell.  Wonderful book.  My sister had been telling me to read this for a while, and she finally just brought it to me!  It's a love story about two teenagers, with the same target audience as The Fault in Our Stars.  The story takes place in Omaha.  Eleanor is the new girl in school.  She's a chubby, poor, awkward redhead, with an unhappy home life (putting it mildly).  Park is half-Korean, quiet, likes comic books and alternative (good) music and feels different from everyone else, especially his father.  They connect.  And the ending will make you cry and feel happy at the same time.

You Are Not Special: ... And Other Encouragements, by David McCullough, Jr.  Remember that commencement speech I linked to a couple years ago?  No?  Well, if you don't, here it is again.  Link through for the full transcript or check out the video on YouTube - it's worth reading or watching.  His speech was aimed at his graduating students at Wellesley High School, here in Massachusetts.  Wellesley is an affluent town, and the students are therefore raised with the knowledge that they are privileged.  Expectations are high.  Ivy league colleges are often the goal.  His statement - "you are not special" - was meant to alleviate some of that pressure.  He expanded on the themes of his speech in this book.  It's a very valuable message, and I definitely agree.  He conveys his thoughts on achievement, parental involvement, club and travel sports, gender/race/class divides...  At times he goes on tangents, but there are many passages that resonated with me, especially those around "learning for learning's sake" as opposed to getting the grade.  I'd definitely recommend this book.


Weekend Accomplishments

I ran a 5K.  Yes, we must start with this one, because who would believe it?  I have long professed my hatred of running, and I'm still not exactly sure how I got talked into doing this.  A friend of mine was running a Mother's Day race with a few other girlfriends and invited me to join them.  What compelled me to say yes, I do not know.  I think I just wanted to see if I could do it.  It was not easy, especially since I did nothing to prepare for it and stayed up too late the night before drinking wine.  But despite this, I jogged the entire time and finished the dang thing.  Slowly, of course, but I did it.  Maybe there's a little runner in me after all.

I planted the garden.  It was a gorgeous weekend, and we spent the entire time outside, loving every second of it.  This year, I planted tomatoes, kale, broccoli, lettuce, green beans, zucchini, butternut squash, and cucumbers.  In addition to our usual herb barrel containing cilantro, rosemary, scallions, and basil.

We worked in the yard.  Besides preparing the garden, I weeded and planted some flowers.  Kevin mowed and seeded and watered and cleaned the shed and edged and did what he does.

We stopped working to play catch and soccer with the boys.  The boys had a great time playing outside together, but sometimes they wanted us to join in.  We played two-on-two soccer and had fun trying to see how long we could keep a catching streak going.

We entertained friends.  Some friends and their two boys came over to hang out in our yard with us.  The boys ran around playing while we got to talk and catch up.  They live about two miles away in the same town, and yet we only see each other every few months.  It was fun to get together.  We let the boys stay up way too late so we could extend our visit, and I hope we get to do it again soon.

I prepared myself a Mother's Day brunch.  Pancakes, fruit, bacon, and mimosas, enjoyed on our patio in the warm sunshine.  Me and my boys.  Does it get any better than that?  No, no it doesn't.


Menu of the Week

photos via Martha Stewart

Every now and then, I complain about the energy it takes to decide what to have for dinner every night.  I hate eating the same things all the time, and I want to continue to find healthy meals that both the kids and I enjoy; so I like trying new recipes.  At the same time, I've been doing this for years now, so I do have a pretty good collection of tried and true recipes.  The problem is, they are all over the place.  I have a binder where I keep recipes clipped from magazines.  I also have plenty of cookbooks, a recipe box containing some family favorites, and I obviously also look to blogs and pinterest for inspiration.  My favorite strategy is searching this blog to see what we ate in the same month a year ago.  I'll probably still do that at times, but I'd love to pull our favorites offline.  Clearly I have plenty of ideas - my problem is figuring out a new strategy for organizing them.  Or at least...organizing the recipes that are already in my rotation.

When deciding on a week's menu, I typically choose a poultry dish, seafood, pasta, a meatless dish or two (such as soup, stir fry, eggs...), and Friday nights are almost always either Mexican (burritos, quesadillas) or pizza.  I typically plan five meals, counting on leftovers at least one night, and one night of going out or a "quick and easy" dinner (fish sticks, mac & cheese, grilled cheese...), especially if Kevin's not home for dinner.  It changes, because our schedule changes.  Baseball nights require something fast, Kevin goes out of town or has work dinners, etc.  So I need to organize our recipes into those categories so I can strategize before each week.  I'm thinking a new binder.

In the meantime, here's a peek at what we've been eating this week...

Marinated Chicken, Rice, Grilled Asparagus
Grilling season is here!  The patio table is out, and we had our first night of dinner outside.  It was awesome.

Penne with Shrimp, Peas, and Pesto, Salad, Baguette
Sometimes categories mix, like this pasta with shrimp - which category would you put it in?  Hm.  Both boys love this and ate every single bite.  I'm thinking that makes it a 'pasta', which are often sure things.  

Cream of Broccoli Soup, Grilled Cheese
My love of veggie soups continues.  The boys did well with this, although it's not a favorite.  I want to try this one next time.  

Vegetable Frittata with Roasted Potatoes and Garlic
I actually didn't have green beans, so I used asparagus instead.  I also cooked this in the afternoon so it was ready to go for our early before-baseball dinner.  It was still good for Kevin's after-baseball dinner.  

Homemade Pizza, Salad


Soaking it in...

You can pretty much count on me posting pictures of flowers during the month of May.  Spring flowers are such a lovely reward for slogging through the mud of April.

So what's going on?  Well, Aaron's baseball season has kicked off, so the next couple months are full of games and practices.  I love it, especially once the temperatures rise a bit.  Last night was his first game, and it was so much fun!  I just love watching him learn and play.

Once we enter May, it seems that the end of the school year will be upon us so quickly.  I can already feel the shift in routine, even though it hasn't actually happened yet and won't really until the end of June.  But as I talk about Nathan's preschool graduation and make travel plans and fill out camp forms, summer is clearly on my mind.

For me personally, I'm transitioning as well.  I'm starting the job search, reaching out to old colleagues, sending emails, setting up lunch, researching companies...  As I look at what my friends and colleagues have been doing with their careers, I have feelings that I can't quite express.  Comparison is the thief of joy, as they say, so I do try to avoid it.  I'm also trying to wrap my head around what next Fall may look like for us.  I'm not there yet, and I suppose I won't be until we are actually there, but the process of preparation has begun.  I think that's why I haven't been online or sharing here more.  My brain is occupied.

I also realized that it's not that I'm uninspired as it relates to dinner, it's just that I am unorganized!  How did this happen?  I am determined to remedy this.  I continue to have days where I feel accomplished and effective, and I balance those with days when I look back and can't remember exactly what it is that I did!  Those endless tasks like laundry and dishes and sweeping are easily forgotten.

In the meantime, I'm appreciating the little things.  I just returned from an awesome yoga class, I'm cooking, organizing, trying to take care of some big house tasks that have been on the list for forever and really better be done before this season is over... I am thoroughly enjoying the new '24' - seeing Jack makes me happy and reminds me of what life was like over a decade ago when I first saw the show.  2001?  I wasn't even married yet!  I was in my 20s, working hard, having fun, traveling all the time.  I had no view of what life would be like at 40.  Now I'm here... in our old house that's almost fixed up, with a hallway full of shoes, baseballs and legos strewn about, tulips lining the front porch.  All I can do is try to soak it all in.

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